“These tactics are strikingly similar to what we saw in the tobacco industry in the same era,” said Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, coauthor of the study, and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Researchers base their finding on a set of 319 documents retrieved at the University of Illinois, said lead author Cristin E. Kearns, DDS, MBA, also from the University of California, San Francisco.
According to the documents, sugar and candy trade groups influenced the US government to focus on reducing the harm caused by sugar rather than warning the public to abstain from sugar, the researchers write.
Dr. Kearns said she discovered the papers in a collection left to the University of Illinois library by the late Roger Adams, PhD, a professor emeritus of organic chemistry.
Dr. Adams served on the Sugar Research Foundation, which later became the Sugar Association, and the scientific advisory board of the International Sugar Research Foundation, which became the World Sugar Research Organization, the report says.
Responding to the new report, the Sugar Association released a statement that questions the validity of the report, and calling the report’s concerns exaggerated.
“It is clear that the authors use of attention-grabbing headlines and scare tactics that liken consumption of all-natural sugar, or sucrose, which is naturally found in vegetables, fruits and fruit juices, to a known carcinogen is a ‘textbook’ play from the activist agenda,” the statement says in part. “Sugar has been safely used by our mothers and grandmothers for hundreds of years.”
Dr. Kearns stated that the NIH should have been more involved in conducting a research into relative role that different carbohydrates play in caries.
“Our findings are a wake-up call for government officials charged with protecting the public health, as well as public health advocates, to understand that the sugar industry, like the tobacco industry, seeks to protect profits over public health,” Dr Glantz said.
The American Dental Association said the organization would have no comment on this matter.